Public Information Specialist III, ngVLA (4825)

Education and Outreach Albuquerque, New Mexico Socorro, New Mexico


Position Description:


Position Summary

The National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) is seeking a dynamic Public Information Specialist to support our forthcoming next generation Very Large Array (ngVLA) project. The ngVLA project is expected to deploy more than 200 radio telescope antennas throughout North America and recently received a strong endorsement from the National Academy of Sciences’ Astronomy and Astrophysics Decadal Survey (Astro2020).


The ngVLA Public Information Specialist (PIS) will help to develop and execute the ngVLA public communication plan to shape the story for this upcoming revolutionary new radio telescope array. Starting at the design and development phase and through construction/commissioning, the PIS will assist the Public Information Officer for New Mexico and the Public Information & News Manager to engage with the general public and key stakeholders by using various communications channels. The PIS will support or draft content including announcements about contract signings, acquisitions, and groundbreaking news.


This role will also work directly with the ngVLA Project Scientist and project managers to provide content review and to keep the ngVLA project web sites up-to-date, curating and posting content as new information becomes available. The PIS will also provide support in the launch and population of the stakeholder database for the project as it comes online.


The selected candidate will leverage a variety of soft skills and communication approaches when working with diverse rural communities through the Southwestern United States to help communicate the public benefits associated with the ngVLA project. This includes state and local governments, impacted populations, and technical specialists. At each phase of design, development, and construction, this role may evolve, giving the PIS the opportunity to learn new skills and expand their role within the observatory.


In addition to competitive pay, NRAO provides excellent paid time off benefits (vacation and sick leave). Medical, dental and vision plans are effective first day of employment. NRAO’s retirement benefit contributes an amount equal to 10 percent of a qualified participant’s base pay. No contribution is required of the employee; we also offer an optional supplemental, tax-deferred plan for employee retirement contributions.

The position will be based in either Socorro, NM or Albuquerque, NM. The NRAO Science Operations Center is located in NM, on the campus of New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology ( Socorro is a small, historical city in the Rio Grande Valley, 75 miles south of Albuquerque. The NRAO Albuquerque Office is located in the Science and Technology Park on the South Campus of The University of New Mexico ( Albuquerque is the largest city in New Mexico boasting a wide variety of restaurants, entertainment, and cultural events. With over 300 days of sunshine each year, both cities offer ample access to outdoor recreation.


Job Duties Summary

Under the direction and guidance of the Public Information & News Manager, the duties of the ngVLA Public Information Specialist may include:

  • Identifying opportunities for publicity in conjunction with NRAO Public Information Officers (PIOs);
  • Supporting the ngVLA project web sites through the curation, management, and updating of content as assigned by the ngVLA project scientist and project managers;
  • Providing research, development, writing, editing, and distribution support for articles and content written about the ngVLA, and other telescopes as directed, and provide content review support for ngVLA project team;
  • Fully engaging and collaborating with the Public Information Group on the writing and execution of the communication plan and strategy, as well as the News Team and the Multimedia Group on all projects, and serves as a liaison and point of contact between these groups and the ngVLA project team;
  • Working in collaboration with the Social Media Specialist and Science Writer to develop medium and short-form content about ngVLA for social media as appropriate;
  • Supporting, developing and maintaining strong working relationships with internal information resources, funding agency public affairs staff, local government and other major stakeholders, and PIOs at research institutions with which NRAO has partnerships;
  • Assisting, as assigned, NRAO management and staff in preparing lectures and public presentations as required, and assists PIOs to develop and execute annual media training;
  • Conducting or supports facility tours and events in Albuquerque, Socorro and at the Very Large Array, or in other locations as assigned.
  • Proactive compliance with NRAO and government safety policies and procedures in own work area is expected;
  • Other duties as assigned.


Work Environment

Work is typically performed in a research or development environment; will be required to stand and sit, and perform fine hand manipulation. Must be able to operate a personal computer. May occasionally work at high altitudes. Occasional travel will be required.


Position Requirements:


Minimum Education

Bachelor’s degree in communications, public relations, or public administration. In lieu of a bachelor’s degree an equivalent combination of education and directly related experience may be considered.


Preferred Education

Advanced degree in in communications, public relations, or public administration.


Minimum Experience

Five years of experience in public affairs or public relations with significant demonstrable experience in writing and distributing press releases and public announcements, writing and curating web content, and presenting to public and government stakeholders.


Preferred Experience

Six or more years of demonstrable experience in areas listed in “Minimum Experience.


Competency Summary

  • Must possess demonstrated writing ability, including writing and working on short deadlines;
  • Able to use and curate CMS-BASED web sites (Wordpress, Drupal, Ruby), demonstrated experience is preferred;
  • Able to navigate a team environment, and to collaborate with multiple individuals on varying and changing timelines;
  • Experience writing and executing a communication plan is required;
  • All candidates must be US-English proficient and possess public speaking acumen;
  • Capable of adhering to AP writing styles and NRAO style guides;
  • Able to quickly pick up on critical key information and use that information to create publicly interesting and digestible content;
  • Must possess an understanding of print, online, and broadcast news media, including news cycles, newsroom organization, and production processes;
  • Demonstrable experience building power point presentations (Prezi or Google Slides are acceptable) and delivering live presentations and trainings;
  • Experience using Eurekalert, Newswise, Meltwater, Critical Mention, Google Drive, Sharepoint, Wordpress, and Trello is helpful, but not required;
  • Firm understanding of public relations principles as they apply to public or large infrastructure projects and have a desire to learn about astrophysics, astronomy and large-scale scientific projects.
  • Preference will be given to candidates with experience working in public communication for public administration, science research, or technical organizations. Work in communication or public affairs offices at universities, public health, environmental quality, agriculture, museums, local or federal government, zoos, parks, and the arts may all meet this qualification;
  • Preference will be given to candidates with demonstrable experience in working with rural communities, Spanish-speaking communities and/or native tribes.


Additional Requirements

The PIS is required to hold and maintain a valid NM Driver’s License. The Observatory requires staff to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to access our facilities.  An offer of employment will be considered contingent until the selected applicant provides proof of vaccination.  A selected applicant may request consideration for an accommodation for a disability or for a sincerely held religious belief.


Application Instructions:


Click the “Apply” button below.  You will need to upload your current CV/Resume and a letter of application describing interest and suitability for the position. In your letter of application, please provide links to four samples of your work including (1) At least one press release or public announcement which you have personally written. (2) A Power Point or other slide-based presentation you have created. *Each sample must be provided as a separate link. We are unable to accept attachments.


Job Close Date:Applicant consideration will begin immediately. Open until filled.


Equal Opportunity Employer Statement:


AUI is an equal opportunity employer.  Women, Minorities, Vietnam-Era Veterans, Disabled Veterans, Veterans and Individuals with Disabilities are encouraged to apply.  To view our complete statement, please visit  If you require reasonable accommodation for any part of the application or hiring process due to a disability, you may submit your request by sending an email to [email protected]. PM20


The NRAO is an equal opportunity employer (M/F/D/V)